US 7334288 B2
A windshield wiper blade assembly having a plurality of wiper strips on a support, one of the wiper strips being normally positioned to engage a windshield while leaving non-engaged the remainder of the plurality of wiper strips, and rotation means for moving the engaged strip to a non-engaging position and for individually moving another of the plurality of the wiper strips to an engaged position.
1. A windshield wiper blade assembly for wiping a windshield, said assembly comprising:
an elongated housing, said housing have a longitudinal slit extending therealong;
an elongated support enclosed in said housing and mounted for rotation therein, said elongated support is multiply segmented into a sequence of substantially axially aligned adjacent segments, between each adjacent segment there is an included axial space to permit intentional non-axial alignment of the segments to adapt to a curvature of the windshield;
an elongated rod extends through the segments and into the housing;
a plurality of wiper strips detachably mounted on said support, to said segments, at pre-established positions such that one of said wiper strips may protrude through said slit and beyond said housing to engage said windshield, thereby leaving the remainder of said plurality of strips in a non-engaging position within said housing;
wherein rotation of said support moves the engaged wiper strip to a non-engaged position while moving a non-engaged wiper strip to an engaged position.
2. A windshield wiper blade assembly according to
3. A windshield wiper blade assembly according to
4. A windshield wiper blade assembly according to
5. A windshield wiper blade assembly according to
6. A windshield wiper blade assembly according to
The present invention relates to a windshield wiper assembly having multiple separately activated wiper strips.
Windshield wipers generally consist of a metallic portion which carries a wiper strip generally made of a resilient material such as rubber and the like. The metallic portion is attached to a wiper rod which connects to a control inside the vehicle for activating the wiper and cause it to move so that the strip which is in contact with the windshield will oscillate and clear the windshield from rain, snow, dirt and the like.
Reportedly, 20 percent of all vehicle accidents result from impaired vision caused by dirty and/or damp windshields. It has been estimated by the industry that 50 percent of the windshield wiper strips on operational vehicles are beyond their functional life span. In general, wiper strips should be inspected every six months and replaced as soon as they diminish windshield visibility. Vehicle manufacturers typically recommend replacing strips every 6 to 12 months; in fact, wiper strips are such vital safety components that many European countries have laws that require replacing them every 12 months.
In the United States, while almost all states require vehicle inspections, there is seldom any serious testing as to the suitable operability of windshield wiper strips. In addition, most vehicle owners only notice that strips need to be replaced when they are already in a hazardous situation requiring new blades, i.e., during thunderstorms, snow storms, foggy days and nights, and the like. Few people, if any, have replacement strips or blades available at such times. Further, few, if any, have the knowledge and/or tools that may be required to replace the wiper or strip.
The problem is made worse by the fact that people are often far from their homes when such emergencies occur and do not know where to find a store carrying replacement parts. Often they occur at times when stores having replacement blades are not open. While garages may be open, most do not carry full lines of replacement blades or strips for every vehicle. For example, for most passenger cars, the blade length varies between 16 and 28 inches; and some newer vehicles have different length blades on each side of the windshield. In short, replacing the wiper blades or strips may not be possible in hazardous situations because of the impossibility of getting a replacement at that time.
While there have been many efforts to improve the performance of wiper strips, the fact remains that every wiper strip will, over time, become non-functional and need replacement.
The present invention overcomes the problems of the prior art by providing wiper blade assemblies having multiple wiper strips that are individually selectable to clear the windshield. A new wiper strip can be put into an operative position in contact with the windshield without removing the non-functional wiper strip or replacing the metallic portion carrying the strip. Thus, a vehicle operator who is faced with a situation requiring a new wiper strip can, as described more fully below, simply disengage the active wiper strip and engage a new wiper strip that already exists on the windshield wiper assembly.
Briefly stated, the present invention comprises a windshield wiper blade assembly comprising:
The invention also comprises a windshield wiper assembly comprising:
The invention also includes a method of selecting any one of a plurality of wiper strips to contact and clean a windshield comprising:
It is one general object of the invention to improve windshield wipers.
It is another object of the invention to facilitate replacement of an active windshield wiper strip with another windshield wiper strip.
Accordingly, in accordance with one feature of the invention, a plurality of windshield wiper strips are individually mounted on an elongated wiper strip support, thereby facilitating individual selection thereof.
In accordance with another feature of the invention, in one embodiment the elongated wiper strip support and mounted wiper strips are enclosed in a cylinder, thereby providing protection for such support and strips.
In accordance with yet another feature of the invention, the wiper strip support is partially rotatable, thereby facilitating selection and replacement of the strip desired for operational use.
In accordance with yet another feature of the invention, a longitudinal slit is provided in the aforementioned cylinder, thereby to provide an aperture through which the operational strip is partially extended when in use.
In accordance with still another feature of the invention, provision is made for partially rotating the wiper strip support to position a selected strip adjacent the aforementioned longitudinal slit so that a part of the selected strip will project outwardly through the slit to engage an adjacent windshield.
In accordance with yet another feature of the invention, provision is made for partially rotating the elongated wiper strip support manually, thereby facilitating selection of the desired strip for operational use.
In accordance with another feature of the invention, the wiper strip support is made effectively flexible, thereby facilitating flexure of the wiper blade to conform to curvature of the adjacent windshield.
In accordance with an optional feature of the invention, the wiper strip support is comprised of resilient material, thus facilitating flexure.
In accordance with another optional feature of the invention, the wiper strip support is comprised of a number of interconnected segments, thus facilitating effective flexure thereof.
In accordance with an optional feature of the invention, one of the wiper strips is designated as a dedicated sponge washer blade and optional fluid distribution is associated therewith, thereby facilitating cleaning of a windshield.
In accordance with another feature of the invention, provision is made for including wiper strips of differing characteristics, thereby facilitating improved performance under differing weather conditions.
In accordance with still a further feature of the invention, there may be included a warming system for warming windshield cleaning fluid, thereby preventing freezing and to assist in windshield de-icing.
In accordance yet an additional feature of the invention, optional provision is made for including a heating coil in the aforementioned protective cylinder, thereby to keep the wiper strips flexible despite cold weather and,
In accordance with another feature of the invention, in manually-operated embodiments, a hinged wing nut or an optional dial may be provided to facilitate the aforementioned partial rotation of the partially rotatable elongated support.
These and other objects and features will be apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment with reference to the drawings.
While the windshield wipers of the present invention are suitable for use on a variety of vehicles or crafts such as automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, boats, trains and the like where windshield wipers are used, the present invention will be further described in connection with automobiles. Further, it is to be noted that while manufacturers use different means to attach their windshield wiper blades to reciprocatable arms of windshield wiper assemblies, the present invention is suitable for use with a variety of supporting and activating mechanisms including (but not limited to) universal adapters for support and/or attachment in a wide variety of different installations used by various manufacturers.
Moreover, the present wiper blades may be made using a variety of materials. Thus, the metallic portion, or frame, may be made of any of the conventional spring materials such as steel, flexible plastics, or a combination of metal and flexible plastic; and the wiper strip can be made of rubber or other flexible materials having the desired qualities. Furthermore, it should be evident that basic architecture of the frame of the wiper blade can be conventional as presently employed in existing wiper systems, or it can be modified, provided that it is effective to exert sufficient pressure on the wiper strip to keep it in the desired engagement with the adjacent windshield surface despite wind or other conventional forces that may be encountered at highway speeds.
As mentioned above, one of the features of the preferred embodiments is that the present invention facilitates different types of wiper strips to be included on the wiper blade support for use in different weather conditions. Thus, for example, a brush assembly can be utilized in place of or with a flexible rubber or rubber-like strip for use in snowy conditions; a sponge may be employed under some conditions; or double-bladed wiper strips such as those of U.S. Pat. No. 3,939,524 can be used in heavy downpours. In short, the plurality of strips can be the same or different to permit the driver to utilize as the active wiper that which is most effective to clear the windshield under the weather conditions encountered.
Details of present invention will now be further described in connection with the embodiments shown in
Now turning to
The protective housing 11 is preferably attached to a conventional reciprocatable wiper arm 18 by resilient frame members such as members 18 a-18 d, thus causing housing 11 to move correspondingly to movement of arm 18. Members 18 a-18 d preferably act as springs to impart desired pressure to keep the operative wiper strip 16 in contact with the adjacent windshield. Arm 18 may, of course, be activated by a switch or another conventional activating device usually located in the interior of the vehicle.
Protective housing 11 may be made of any of a variety of conventional materials that preferably are relatively light and impact resistant. Thus, it may be made of material such as steel, aluminum or impact resistant plastic, and it is structured to conduct suitable pressure to the then active wiper blade strip (e.g., strip 16) to maintain it in desired contact with the adjacent windshield to provide effective removal of moisture and the like.
Left end 20 and right end 21 of protective housing 11 include openings 20 a and 21 a through which rod end portions 14 a and 14 b protrude. End portion 14 a is preferably threaded to receive rotator wing nut 13 which, as shown in
It should be noted in connection with both
In the embodiments herein depicted, rod 14 is depicted as being continuous and having an essentially square cross section over its center portion (
Referring further to
Referring again to
As will now be evident, the protective housing 11 surrounding wiper strip assembly 12 additionally acts as a protective covering to shield the wiper strip assembly 12 and the wiper strip or strips that are not in use. Thus, the non-active strips are protected from weathering and damage from ultra-violet radiation. Of course, such protection could be provided by one or more individual wiper covers such as those offered by Intromark, Inc., of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Reference again to
Further reference to
As mentioned previously, one of the desired characteristics of the wiper strips is that they be made of resilient material. This is not only so that the strip conforms to a modest curvature of the adjacent windshield but also to provide for it to bend so that it can be retracted into housing 11 when rod 14 is turned to present another strip as the active strip. From
While the wiper strip assemblies of
It should be evident that even for an embodiment in which only one wiper strip at a time is operative, more than 3 wiper strips can be placed onto a support, provided that they be spaced sufficiently far apart so that only one strip contacts the windshield and that the passive strips do not interfere with the action thereof. This spacing can be readily determined by routine experimentation. It should also be evident that more than one slit (such as slit 22) could be provided. Thus, a pair of closely spaced parallel slits could be employed (or a single slot widened as shown in
Reference is now made to
Reference is next made to
Referring additionally to
As will be apparent from the foregoing, the mating of recesses and tabs is such that when the keepers are assembled, angular movement of wing nut 13 or dial 40 results in a like angular movement of the keepers.
As mentioned above,
As mentioned above,
Now turning to the embodiment of
Referring again now to
Assembly is accomplished by attaching end cap 11 b to housing 11 (
It will now be evident that there has been disclosed herein an improved windshield wiper blade assembly that facilitates timely and effective replacement of wiper strips. Although the invention hereof has been described by say of example of preferred embodiments, it will be evident that other adaptations and modifications may be employed without departing from the spirit and scope thereof.
The terms and expressions employed herein have been used as terms of description and not of limitation; and thus, there is no intent of excluding equivalents, but on the contrary it is intended to cover any and all equivalents that may be employed without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.